Duck Stock

The flavor of soups, sauces, and especially risottos depends heavily on the quality of the stock used. Bouillon cubes are terrible because they are usually more than 99% salt. Store-bought stocks usually also have a very high salt content, which renders them useless for sauces and risotto. And it is so easy to make your own stock, it only takes a bit of patience.

From the comments of my readers and recipes on many other blogs, I’m starting to get the impression that many cooks out there believe there are only about four types of stock: vegetable stock, chicken stock, beef stock, and fish stock. However, stock can be made from virtually anything and each ingredient gives off a characteristic flavor. So you can also prepare lamb stock, shrimp stock, pork stock, rabbit stock, hare stock, pheasant stock, etc. If you make a lamb dish with a sauce or a lamb stew, you will get more lamb flavor if you use lamb stock rather than beef stock.

So even though making duck stock is not different from making chicken stock (except that you use duck rather than chicken), I’m posting about it anyway to emphasize that duck stock exists, easy to make at home, and preferable to chicken stock in most cases for duck dishes. Continue reading “Duck Stock”

Perfect Duck Breast Using Transglutaminase

I always thought it was impossible to prepare a perfect duck breast. Duck breast consists of two parts: the skin and the meat. To be perfect, the skin should be crispy with most of the fat rendered out of it, and the meat should be medium rare. Both at the same time seemed to be impossible, as the meat overcooks while you are rendering the fat from the skin. Even experimenting didn’t help to solve this conundrum.

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But then I thought of Transglutaminase, an enzyme that is sold mixed with maltodextrin and sodium caseinate under the name of Activa RM and is also known as ‘meat glue’. Why not take the skin off the meat, cook skin and meat separately, and then glue them back together again? Teun had some Activa and so I went over to his place to try this. And guess what? It worked! Crispy skin and meat that was uniformly medium rare all the way up to the skin. (Unfortunately I only took photos with my iPhone in bad lighting conditions. I will prepare duck breast this way again and then take good photos and post a proper recipe.) Continue reading “Perfect Duck Breast Using Transglutaminase”

Pasta with Smoked Duck, Beetroot, and Orange

I like the Italian way of having a primo piatto of pasta or rice first, followed by a secondo piatto of meat or fish. We often eat like this, and for this particular evening I had planned to serve first pasta with beetroot and then smoked duck leg with orange sauce. Because I thought the flavors would work together nicely, I decided to turn this into a piatto unico and serve everything together instead. I liked the result, but it was less ‘Italian’ than what I usually make because there were a lot of flavors on the plate. So pick for yourself whether you’d like to serve this all together or separately. Continue reading “Pasta with Smoked Duck, Beetroot, and Orange”

Duck Leg a l’Orange Sous-Vide

Sous-vide confit of duck leg is great, but I thought it should also be possible to do a more juicy less flaky texture. Some experimenting with times and temperatures showed me right: 24 hours at 64.5C/148F yielded tender juicy duck legs. Duck with orange is a classic combination from French cuisine, known as Canard à l’Orange. And so a very simple but very stylish and tasty dish was born. Ingredients? Duck legs, an orange, salt and pepper, and a teaspoon of honey. That’s it! The duck is cooked in its own fat. Perfect simplicity or simple perfection? Continue reading “Duck Leg a l’Orange Sous-Vide”

Simple Peking Duck

I love Peking Duck, but I always thought it was very difficult to make at home. I could hardly believe it when I saw the very simple recipe described by Stéphane on his blog My French Heaven. He just boils the whole duck with some honey and soy sauce, allows it to dry in the refrigerator and then roasts it for 1.5 hours at 250C/480F. I tried this and the result was quite good! Thanks Stéphane! Peking Duck is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. You eat pieces of crispy skin with some cucumber and scallions with a sauce, rolled … Continue reading Simple Peking Duck

Hot Smoked Duck Breast with Plum Chutney

The combination of duck and fruit is well known, with canard à l’orange as the most famous rendition. I got the idea to combine duck with a spiced plum chutney from Jamie Oliver and have been making this for years, ever since I’ve had a stove top smoker (that I use with separate burners since I have an induction hob and since it’s easier to use outside anyway). I love hot smoking since it’s so easy, very tasty, and always gives a lot of oohs and aahs when I serve something straight from the smoker to my friends. Some slices of … Continue reading Hot Smoked Duck Breast with Plum Chutney

How to cook duck breast (with or without sous-vide)

Duck breast is a very tasty type of meat, but it is a bit different from other meats and therefore it may be a challenge to cook it perfectly tender and juicy. If you know how, it is actually not that difficult. And this time I’m not going to write as in many other posts that you should use sous-vide, because cooking it in the oven is almost as good and will give excellent results as well. I cooked two identical duck breast fillets to compare sous-vide versus oven, and the results were remarkably similar. Sous-vide was a little bit better … Continue reading How to cook duck breast (with or without sous-vide)